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Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give
9 10

PLOT: Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) leads a double life. By day, she’s a popular student at a mostly white, privileged prep school, but her home life is much different, with her and her family living in a mostly black, inner city neighbourhood. After witnessing the fatal shooting her of unarmed friend Khalil at the hands of a white police officer, she must choose between keeping her carefully maintained double life in check, or speaking out in an effort to get justice for her friend.

REVIEW: THE HATE U GIVE, despite being a big studio, PG-13 film aimed at a younger audience, is probably the most affecting big-screen take on Black Lives Matter and police violence since FRUITVALE STATION. Opting for a highly emotional but impressively nuanced take, of the recent wave of films covering much of the same ground (including BLINDSPOTTING and MONSTERS AND MEN) this is the one that’s going to connect to the broadest audience and prompt them to ask questions that need to be asked.

This is certainly an impressive feat for director George Tilman, Jr., and likely his most accomplished film to date. The source material is apparently strong, with this being based on the acclaimed young adult novel by Angie Thomas, with the screenplay adaptation by the late Audrey Wells. A lot of ground is tackled here beyond police violence, including cultural appropriation, the stop snitching movement and more. Not easy topics for a PG-13 - although in a wise move they seem to have been given a little more latitude than usual by the MPAA.

The cast is spot-on, with Amandla Stenberg emerging as a future superstar in the lead. Starr is an impressively nuanced character. She’s plagued by self-doubt and her reluctance to speak out on Khalil’s murder is understandable, with it shown that many of her white prep-school friends are unsympathetic to the plight of a community they don’t understand. Even worse, a local drug lord, King (Anthony Mackie) makes it clear that if she talks her life is going to be in danger as Khalil’s connection to him threatens his organization.

Where THE HATE U GIVES really shines though is in the focus it maintains on Starr’s family, all of whom are impressively three dimensional. Her dad, Maverick (Russell Hornsby) is the most interesting character, being King’s former right hand man who served a stint in prison but has since gone straight. While depicted as a loving dad, he’s also given some shades of grey, with him shown to have a hyper-macho streak, while he’s also fathered a child outside of his marriage to Starr’s mom, Lisa (Regina Hall - also excellent) although all involved make the best of a tricky situation.

It’s the rich characterization that makes THE HATE U GIVE so absorbing, in that you really want everything to turn out ok for Starr and her family, but you also know that toeing the line isn’t an option either, especially with community tensions with the police shown throughout to be at a boiling point. Interestingly, THE HATE U GIVE never pretends to have all the answers, with Common’s cop character playing devil’s advocate to a degree. Likewise, not all of Starr’s prep school friends are shown to be ignorant, with her boyfriend (“RIverdale’s” KJ Apa) proving to be a stand-up guy throughout.

I can see now why THE HATE U GIVE was such a breakout hit at TIFF this year, as it really does have the potential to connect with a broad audience and actually inspire positive change. More than that, it’s also terrifically entertaining and affecting, and like the upcoming GREEN BOOK, has the potential to really educate an audience that otherwise, might be ignorant to some of the issues dealt with here.

Source: JoBlo.com

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